Posted in encouragement, good shepherd, living water, sheep

Sheep lie down

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake.
(Psalm 23:1-3)

Regarding the sheep who lie down, I was listening to James Montgomery Boice exposit the 7th chapter of Micah, verse 14.

Shepherd your people with your staff, the flock of your inheritance, which lives by itself in a forest,
in fertile pasturelands. (Micah 7:14)

Mr Boice explained about the Shepherd and the sheep. He said that he had heard, but did not know if it was true, that sheep won’t lie down until their needs are met. Only when they are full, their thirst slaked, and their surroundings peaceful, will they rest. I began looking that up because having lived next to a flock of sheep for the past year, I like looking at them and learning their qualities so as to better understand the Bible’s use of them as an example. O.P. Gifford, Pastor of First Baptist Church of Brookline MA in 1909, wrote an exposition of the Twenty Third Psalm for the Homiletic Review Minister’s Monthly. Pastor Gifford remarked-

A sheep has four stomachs. When its first stomach is full, he will lie down and ruminate, that is, chew his cud so that it can pass to the second stomach. But it will still not lie down if there is restlessness within the flock, or if there is friction between sheep family members, or if there is a predator. A lying down sheep means he is full, peaceful, and content.

EPrata photo

Here is an excerpt from Pastor Gifford regarding the still waters:

The pictures in the Bible are tremendous for allowing us to see biblical truths, no matter our age, culture, or epoch in which we live. I look forward tot he day when I can lie down, thirst slakes, hunger dismissed, and no friction in the flock, and no predators. Ahhh, the Lord is good, or should I say the Good Shepherd is good!

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Further Reading

Sheep Know His Voice: Inspiring Video

Wells of Living Water

Posted in encouragement, grace, Master, sheep

His sheep know His voice and they follow. Inspiring video

Youtube synopsis:

Published on Nov 17, 2013

A little compilation of a visit to my friend, Christopher Lange’s farm at Harestua, Norway. I have long wanted to film this test, where we call for his sheep in the same words as he uses, and then let him do it. A Biblical lesson to learn from this!

The verse that comes to mind is

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. (John 10:27)

It’s an inspiring video, especially when we think about Lazarus, who was dead when Jesus called him, and he responded to his Master’s voice by coming alive again! If we are alive when He calls for us in the rapture, we also will respond to His voice, and “come up here” to be with Him.

HT to reader Ruby who alerted me to this video and to Jacco who found it.

Posted in encouragement, forgiveness, good shepherd, sheep

Our Great Shepherd: His care and love are everlasting

‎In biblical times, a shepherd’s main concern was the welfare of the flock. Providing the sheep with food and waters as well as guarding them from predators and thieves were primary responsibilities. Highlighting this relationship, Jesus says in the scripture, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” (John 10:11). [from Logos Bible Software]

EPrata photo

But he brought his people out like a flock; he led them like sheep through the wilderness. (Psalm 78:52).

Since moving to this county nearly ten years ago, I have never ceased to enjoy the sight of numerous animals dotting the landscape. Here is a quick-facts graphic showing the importance of agriculture in our county-

There are many pastures. I regularly see cows, horses, donkeys, sheep, chickens, and sometimes emus, buffalo, hawks, foxes, and even coyotes.

Reading about the animals in the Bible is wonderful and interesting. However, being among the animals mentioned in the Bible and observing them is another layer of understanding entirely. The neighbor on the other side of the house (I’m in the in-law apartment adjacent) is a shepherdess. I love watching the pastured sheep next door. Their life cycle, cavorting lambs, the nursing, the hay, grass, and stubble that they eat, the wool, their grazing, their recent escapes from the field lol, all interesting.

The Bible refers to the body of Christ as sheep. Am I a sheep? Yes, says Jesus, metaphorically. He is my Shepherd. What a glorious metaphor. I love to think of The Perfect herding me, caring for me, leading me, protecting me. Everything He does is perfect so His care of the sheep will also be perfect, and I can and do rest in that knowledge.

It’s a good metaphor. He could have likened us to badgers, angry and contentious. He could have called us after the evil one who is god of the earth- a lion, a prowling predator seeking after sin and devouring others. He could have called us a spider, an insect nobody likes. I mean, really. A sheep is good.

In my Logos 6 software one can research by topic. I found these biblical facts about sheep:

The sheep is the first animal specified by name in the sacred writings. Abel, himself a shepherd, offered the firstlings of his flock to the Lord (Gen. 4:4). Abraham was very rich in sheep, and Job at one time had 14,000 amongst his herds. In 2 Kings 3:4 we read of a Moabitish shepherd-king who gave a tribute of a hundred thousand lambs and a hundred thousand rams; and this country is still inhabited by owners of vast herds of sheep, the Beni Sakkr sheikhs. Solomon celebrated the dedication of the temple by the sacrifice of 120,000 sheep. 

The Sheep is perhaps the most important of all the animals in the Scriptures. It formed the chief portion of the wealth of the patriarchs, and it is not merely as an article of food that its value is to be estimated. The clothing of those days was almost entirely made of wool; cotton, silk and flax being hardly known or quite out of reach until a later period. The number of flocks was the chief measure of property. Tillage was, comparatively speaking, but little resorted to in Palestine, and there was only very local or in most places no possession in land. Hence sheep were of primary value; and from its nature the country was, and is still, better adapted to the rearing and feeding of sheep than other domestic animals.

Source- Hart, H. C. (1888). The Animals Mentioned in the Bible (pp. 193–194). London: The Religious Tract Society.

Interesting! How about the beloved 23rd Psalm-

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
3 He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake.

4Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.

5You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.

6Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD
forever.

EPrata photo

Here is Matthew Henry Commentary on the famous first line of the Psalm, ‘The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.’

Confidence in God’s grace and care. – “The Lord is my shepherd.” In these words, the believer is taught to express his satisfaction in the care of the great Pastor of the universe, the Redeemer and Preserver of men. With joy he reflects that he has a shepherd, and that shepherd is Jehovah.  

A flock of sheep, gentle and harmless, feeding in verdant pastures, under the care of a skilful, watchful, and tender shepherd, forms an emblem of believers brought back to the Shepherd of their souls. The greatest abundance is but a dry pasture to a wicked man, who relishes in it only what pleases the senses; but to a godly man, who by faith tastes the goodness of God in all his enjoyments, though he has but little of the world, it is a green pasture.  

The Lord gives quiet and contentment in the mind, whatever the lot is. Are we blessed with the green pastures of the ordinances, let us not think it enough to pass through them, but let us abide in them. The consolations of the Holy Spirit are the still waters by which the saints are led; the streams which flow from the Fountain of living waters. Those only are led by the still waters of comfort, who walk in the paths of righteousness.

Do you have confidence in God’s grace and care? Do you have quiet contentment of the mind, knowing the Great Shepherd would not only lay down His life for the sheep, but He has done it? Are you consoled by the knowledge that His protection is mighty and everlasting? That His pastures remain green? That the waters are always living and fresh?

We are blessed with good care. Though we stray, the Good Shepherd brings the lost sheep home. This is the ultimate blessing, forgiveness of our many sins, and promise of eternal joy.

All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:6)

Thank You Lord. Thank You.

To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. (John 10:3)

As Jonathan Edwards said in his “Farewell Sermon“,

Whoever may hereafter stand related to you as your spiritual guide, my desire and prayer is that the great Shepherd of the sheep would have a special respect to you, and be your guide (for there is none teacheth like him), and that he who is the infinite fountain of light, would “open your eyes, and turn you from darkness unto light, and from the power of Satan unto God; that you may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them that are sanctified, through faith that is in Christ;” that so in that great day, when I shall meet you again before your Judge and mine, we may meet in joyful and glorious circumstances, never to be separated any more.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Further Reading

Exposition of The Lord is My Shepherd

Posted in good shepherd, I am the door, sheep, shepherd, the worthless shepherd

Jesus as Shepherd, and I AM the Door

Shed door, inside are sheep! EPrata photo

To plumb the Bible’s depths is such a treasure and a pleasure. It never ends. I’ve been studying about the Shepherd and one of His I AM statements, “I AM the door”.

The Bible mentions shepherds and shepherding over 200 times. Jesus uses the metaphor of the Shepherd often, and said here in arguably the most famous statement,

I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. (John 10:11)

Did you ever notice there were a lot of shepherds in the bible? There were even the unnamed shepherds watching their flocks by night, the first recipients of the Good News.

Numerous biblical characters are associated with the occupation of shepherding: Abel (Gen. 4:2), Abraham (Gen. 13:7), Isaac (Gen. 26:20), Jacob and his sons (especially Joseph, Gen. 30:36; 46:32), Laban (and his daughter Rachel, Gen. 29:9), Moses (Exod 3:1), and David (1 Sam. 16:11). Source Holman treasury of key Bible words, Carpenter, E. E.

Shepherds’ work was never ending, lonely, and dangerous. They had few tools, the rod as a crook to extracting sheep from difficulty and the staff or club for fending off wild animals; (1Samuel 17:34-37). We know David also had a slingshot. Shepherds also had pouch for food and used their wrap as a cloak and also a blanket.

There was not a lot of grass so shepherds had to move the flock often. Sheep are followers. If one sheep walks over a cliff the rest will follow. They don’t defend themselves against prey, they simply huddle up and then there’s a slaughter. They are scared of moving water and will only drink from still water, (“He maketh me lie down near still waters”) but if they fall into moving water they will drown.

EPrata photo

When night-time came the shepherd had two options. Using one of his tools, the rod, he could lead the sheep (never drive them) into a sheepfold in the field. (Luke 2:8) This was simply a crudely made rock enclosure, usually a circle, so-high and topped with thorns to prevent prey or robbers scaling it to get in (John 10:1).

The shepherd brought the sheep to the fold one by one. He’d let down his rod to bar it from coming in, and he would inspect the sheep from head to toe. He was looking for injuries, disease, or anything that might need attention. The lanolin, a waxy substance the sheep excrete to keep their wool dry, often hid cysts or cuts, so he had to closely inspect each sheep before lifting up his rod to allow them entry.

Just as the lost are closely examined at the Great White Throne Judgment as seen in Revelation 20:11-15. The saved are allowed in but we are still inspected. (Romans 14:10-12, 2 Corinthians 5:10)

The shepherd also counted the sheep as they went in, to see if any were still out there, or for tithing purposes. (Matthew 18:12; Jer. 33:13).

I will make you pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant. (Ezekiel 20:37)

And every tithe of herds and flocks, every tenth animal of all that pass under the herdsman’s staff, shall be holy to the Lord. (Leviticus 27:32)

The sheepfold had no door. The shepherd placed his rod and staff across the opening and bedded down at the threshold, becoming the door.

I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. (John 10:9)

I’ll discuss the going in and out in another blog essay. The other option was to lead the sheep to a community sheepfold or a privately owned sheepfold in town. (Zephaniah 2:6). Sometimes the shepherd would make use of his lean-to or another enclosure in town, going through the same process with the rod as each sheep entered. This time, the shepherd would have hired a hireling to watch the sheep at night, and he’d go to his own bed until morning. Sometimes hirelings were not worthy and ran away. (John 10:13)

EPrata photo. Actual sheepfold door, with wheelbarrow

In the cities of the hill country, in the cities of the Shephelah, and in the cities of the Negeb, in the land of Benjamin, the places about Jerusalem, and in the cities of Judah, flocks shall again pass under the hands of the one who counts them, says the Lord (Jeremiah 33:13)

He is the Good Shepherd. He is the door, where inside the sheep are counted, examined, protected, loved, and cared for.

Posted in sheep, shepherd

The Great Shepherd, the Good Shepherd, the Chief Shepherd

The John MacArthur, Grace to You annual Shepherds’ Conference is going on right now in California. You can follow the twitter feed at #shepconf, or go to the website at ShepherdsConference.org

The purpose of this annual conference is to minister to the pastors, elders, and leaders of the local church. Its focus is to make the conference a time for our men to be refreshed and rejuvenated in their ministry. Men from around the world attend, and it is a beautiful sight to see and hear thousands of men singing hymns such “It is Well With My Soul” and seeing them gather. It is also wonderful to be able to pray for so many at once.

One of the first sermons preached at the 2013 conference was by Phil Johnson about the Shepherd. Jesus is the Good Shepherd, the Great Shepherd, the Chief Shepherd.

“Know that the Lord, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.” (Psalm 100:3)

Brethren, Jesus is with us, always. No matter what you are going through, He is with you. He cares for you as one of His lambs, nourishing us, rounding us up, leading us to calm waters, giving us pastures to refresh us. He protects us from wolves and gives us shelter under His wings to steady us from the storms. How good to hear His voice, in the bible, and how great it will be to hear it audibly when He, the Chief Shepherd, calls us home, and we follow Him as the sheep we are. (John 10:27, 1 Thessalonians 4:16).

Is there anything more comforting than knowing that the Good Shepherd, the Great Shepherd, the Chief Shepherd, knows His sheep…us?

“Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant,” (Hebrews 13:20).

Abel was a shepherd, and when Cain killed Abel Abel’s blood cried out from the ground. (Genesis 4:2, Genesis 4:10). David was a Shepherd, and perhaps this was why God called David a “man after my own heart”. (Acts 13:22). Jesus is the Good Shepherd.

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” (John 10:11).  “and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.” (Hebrews 12:24)

And so on Crucifixion Day, it was the blood of Jesus that cried out from the ground. (Matthew 27:51).

Yet the Shepherd rose again! Our Chief will care for His sheep forever!

“And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.” (1 Peter 5:4).

But the glory is His. Let us cast our crowns back to Him and praise Him for His work in heaven and on earth. There is nothing we are going through that you and He can’t get through together.After all, he created us, He will keep us in His care.

Worthy are you, our Lord and God,
to receive glory and honor and power,
for you created all things,
and by your will they existed and were created.”

Revelation 4:10-11

Posted in flock, sheep, shepherd

The Shepherd speaks to His sheep

“And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd. Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest. ” (Matthew 9:36-38 KJV).

Barnes Notes:

But when he saw the multitudes – That followed him from place to place. When he saw their anxiety to be instructed and saved.

He was moved with compassion on them – He pitied them.

Because they fainted – The word used here refers to the weariness and fatigue which results from labor and being burdened. He saw the people burdened with the rites of religion and the doctrines of the Pharisees; sinking down under their ignorance and the weight of their traditions; neglected by those who ought to have been enlightened teachers; and scattered and driven out without care and attention. With great beauty he compares them to sheep wandering without a shepherd. Judea was a land of flocks and herds. The faithful shepherd, by day and night, was with his flock. He defended it, made it to lie down in green pastures, and led it beside the still waters, Psalm 23:2. Without his care the sheep would stray away. They were in danger of wild beasts. They panted in the summer sun, and they did not know where the cooling shade and stream was. So, said the Saviour, is it with this people. No wonder that the compassionate Redeemer was moved with pity.

Jesus is a wonderful, wonderful Savior. Jesus went about preaching and proclaiming….and healing. Let’s look at the healing for a moment.

John wrote that Jesus did so many miracles that all the books of the world could not contain them. (John 21:25). We read the record of the types of miracles but certainly not the entire body of miraculous work that Jesus did. Most of the miracles were healing. (Matthew 9:36). You note the verse says Jesus drove out every sickness and every disease. This means every type and every last one. For all intents and purposes, the Land was cleansed from disease during Jesus’s ministry.

Blindness? Healed. (John 9:6-7). Paralyzed? Healed. (Mark 2:12). Internal injury? Healed. (Mark 5:21-43). Leprosy? Healed. (Matthew 8:1-4). No matter what the sickness or injury, whether it was from birth or recent, no matter if it was internal or external, Jesus healed them.

When Jesus was concluding His ministry, “He called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal every disease and sickness. (Matthew 10:1). Healing continued (for a while, pp.19-26).

Why would Jesus be so consumed with not only proclaiming and preaching, but healing? MacArthur interprets that it is the compassion of Jesus that is the basis for Jesus doing this work. That Jesus wanted us to know that He cares, that God is concerned with each of them. Would a good shepherd see a sheep with an injury and not care for it? Of course He would bind their leg, minister to their illness. The sheep otherwise would be so scared and in such pain! A good shepherd helps His sheep.

The Pharisees had been preaching a distant God, a harsh god, an inattentive God. The people, as the opening verse stated, were sheep without a Shepherd. Even though God was on His throne and entirely involved in the people’s lives and His care for them just as potent as the day He created Adam, the people did not know it. They were being led by false teachers proclaiming false doctrine. The worst impact of that false doctrine was that they were fainting and scattering.

Notice a second thing about Jesus and His healing. It was instant and it was total. Each person He healed was made whole. If you read Colossians, Paul preaches that Jesus is ALL we need. All that Jesus does is perfect and entire. This includes the healings, as we see from the following sample verses:

“And he said unto her, Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace, and be whole of thy plague.” (Mark 5:34)

“Jesus turned and saw her. “Take heart, daughter,” he said, “your faith has healed you.” And the woman was healed from that moment.” (Matthew 9:22)

“And immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed, and walked: and on the same day was the sabbath.” (John 5:9)

“And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole.” (Luke 17:19).

The healings Jesus performed in His compassion as Shepherd unto His sheep were complete. It is the same with His spiritual healing. He makes us whole, instantly. Our sanctification (growth in Christ over our lives) is progressive, but when we are justified, the spiritual healing at the moment of our conversion is whole, complete, and entire. That is what the Book of Colossians is about. Read the Colossians 1-2 and note how many times you read the words ‘fullness’, ‘all’, ‘filled’, ‘fully’.

He is our all in all, His work is perfect and complete. It is complete in us. Far from being a distant and uncaring God, our Christ is loving and compassionate. He is our Shepherd, and we need never wander or faint again. Though we long for the restful pastures and still waters of the Kingdom in body and in presence, we do have that rest and calm now on earth until the Day. Our Shepherd is mighty and is standing at the center of our lives with His crook, caring for each of us every moment. His eye is upon His sheep. I pray that you hear His voice, speaking love and care to you now.

“I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. ” (John 10:14-16)

Selah.